Iran-backed militias near Iraq-Syria border ring alarms

'This constitutes a threat to security and stability in the liberated areas of Nineveh province,' The office of KRG President Masoud Barzani in Erbil

Tension. Iraqi militia fighters ride on a tank in Um Jaris village on the Iraqi border with Syria, on May 29. (Reuters)


2017/06/04 Issue: 109 Page: 1


The Arab Weekly
Mamoon Alabbasi



London- The approach of Iranian-backed militias from inside Iraq and Syria to­wards the borders of both countries has caused alarm for the United States and its allies in the area who are wary of the geographical connection of pro- Tehran forces.

Iranian-backed Iraqi militias have captured several villages from the Islamic State (ISIS) west of Mosul and south of Sinjar in the province of Nineveh. The move drew con­demnation from Iraq’s semi-auton­omous Kurdistan Regional Govern­ment (KRG), which is worried about the militias being stationed near peshmerga forces.

“This constitutes a threat to se­curity and stability in the liberated areas of Nineveh province,” read a statement from the office of KRG’s President Masoud Barzani in Erbil.

The presence of predominately Shia militias in the border areas is viewed by some Sunni Arabs as an attempt to cut across their commu­nity and prevent them from having geographical unity.

Iraqi militia leaders said control of the border areas would bolster the position of Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose regime is also backed by Tehran.

There are already Iraqi militiamen fighting alongside pro-Assad forces but militia leaders have promised more support to the Syrian regime once they secure the border areas.

At the same time in Syria, Iranian-backed militias supporting Assad have moved towards the border with Iraq, drawing warnings from Washington, which saw their move­ment as a threat to US-backed Syr­ian forces fighting ISIS.

“We have increased our presence and our footprint (around the Syr­ian town of al-Tanf) and prepared for any threat that is presented by the pro-(Assad) regime forces,” said US Army Colonel Ryan Dillon, a Baghdad-based spokesman for the anti-ISIS coalition. “We see that as a threat,” Dillon said.

The presence of US forces in al- Tanf, which is on the Damascus- Baghdad highway, is also aimed at stopping Iran-backed militias from having a corridor between Iraq and Syria, sources told Reuters.

Having the Iraq-Syria border ar­eas under the control of pro-Iranian militias would give Tehran an addi­tional strategic advantage militarily.

Al-Tanf is also close to the border with Jordan, which is also alarmed by the movement of Iranian-backed militias.


Mamoon Alabbasi is an Arab Weekly contributing editor based in London. You can follow him on Twitter @MamoonAlabbasi


As Printed
MENA Now
Editors' Picks

The Arab Weekly Newspaper reaches Western & Arabic audience that are influential as well as being affluent.

From Europe to the Middle East,and North America, The Arab Weekly talks to opinion formers and influential figures, providing insight and comment on national, international and regional news through the focus of Arabic countries and community.

Published by Al Arab Publishing House

Publisher and Group Executive Editor: Haitham El-Zobaidi, PhD

Editor-in-Chief: Oussama Romdhani

Deputy Editor-in-Chief: Dalal Saoud

Senior Editor: John Hendel

Chief Copy Editors: Jonathan Hemming and Richard Pretorius

Analysis Section Editor: Ed Blanche

Opinion Section Editor: Claude Salhani

East/West Section Editor: Mark Habeeb

Levant Section Editor: Jamal J. Halaby

Gulf Section Editor: Mohammed Alkhereiji

Society and Travel Sections Editor: Samar Kadi

Senior Correspondents:

Mahmud el-Shafey (London)

Lamine Ghanmi (Tunis)

Correspondents

Saad Guerraoui (Casablanca)

Dunia El-Zobeidi (London)

Roua Khlifi (Tunis)

Rasha Elass - Thomas Seibert (Washington)

Published by Al Arab Publishing House

Contact editor at:editor@thearabweekly.com

Subscription & Advertising: Ads@alarab.co.uk

Tel 020 3667 7249

Mohamed Al Mufti

Marketing & Advertising Manager

Tel (Main) +44 20 6702 3999

Direct: +44 20 8742 9262

www.alarab.co.uk

Al Arab Publishing House

Kensington Centre

66 Hammersmith Road

London W14 8UD, UK

Tel: (+44) 20 7602 3999

Fax: (+44) 20 7602 8778

Follow Us
© The Arab Weekly, All rights reserved